Artist-in-Residence, Fall 2011

The Peanut Man—Archibald Campbell Seruby, “Spader”
Memory is neither a lie nor a confession; it is an inflexion of the human imagination. Stories and myth are essential to the creativity and abstract thought processes of memory. As humans we are compelled to tell stories that are rooted in personal mythology and memory. Our identities are influenced by the perceived authenticity of stories we tell, the stories we hear, and the personal honesty of those memories. Ceramic sculpture and portraiture, in particular, provides a malleable type of visual narration that satisfies my urge for documenting memory in a contemporary context.

My four-month artist residency with the ACP focused on creative approaches to documenting biographic narratives in the form of a portrait bust. The sculpture I created was directly influenced by the memories, stories, and images of Archibald Campbell Seruby, “Spader”, an unsung, but noteworthy Princetonian. Every community, most especially Princeton, has been influenced by the lives of colorful characters who have yet to be formally or publicly recognized. My intention was to express, teach, and preserve the memory of A.C. Seruby. I portrayed not only the outward appearance, but also a more intimate or hidden aspect of his persona. Instead of the traditional, stoic, portrait bust, this sculpture is a humanized, personalized representation of Mr. Seruby, the peanut man.

Daily Princetonian, Volume 54, Number 82, 15 June 1929
Venerable Colored Man, Noted for High-Powered Salesmanship,
Back for Yale Game

With loud shouts of “Get your winning peanuts!” “O-old Nassau,” and many toothy smiles and throaty roars, Spader, the old negro peanut man will be on hand at the game this afternoon, for his peddling license has been renewed. – A. C. Seruby, as his name appears on the license issued to him by the Borough Council, has been a prominent figure in Princeton and surrounding boroughs for so long that he has now taken on the aspect of a landmark. His high, shiny silk hat and coachman’s coat with the gleaming buttons and his basket of roasted peanuts have been familiar to generations of Princeton students. The Jigger Man waives all claim of priority to Spader and declares the latter was well established when he started in himself twenty years ago.



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